First decide on the date of your party, guest list, and theme. If you choose to entertain around a holiday, many of your decisions will be easier, if you incorporate traditional decorations and food. Invite guests to your party early, preferably two or more weeks ahead of time. This will give them time to RSVP and will give you more time to plan. The comfort of your guests is your primary goal, so think about compatibility, tastes, ages, and the ambiance you want to create.
There are ways to make things easier – takeout and deli foods are absolutely acceptable, and you can have a cookout, picnic, or a potluck party if you are really busy. A sit down dinner party is more formal than a cookout or a buffet, so think carefully about what type of party makes you the most comfortable.
Get ready to make lists! Lists are absolutely essential for any party, as you can jot things down as you think of them. Once you have the basics well planned and written down, your mind will be free to be creative with the food, fun, and decor.
Make your guest list and invite them. Calling is the easiest way to invite, and you will most likely get an immediate response. Another advantage of calling is you can ask if your guests have any food allergies or preferences. For larger parties, like a surprise birthday party, you can send out invitations.
Take inventory of your supplies: table and chairs, serving pieces, cutlery, crystal, plates, candlesticks, serving areas, and of course your kitchen. Think about renting or borrowing items you don’t have. Make sure the things you own are sparkling clean and in good repair.
Think about how you want to decorate. Decorations for a party can be as simple as candlesticks on the table, or more elaborate streamers, balloons, flower arrangements, tablecloths, and even chair covers. Decorate with the seasons too. Fresh flowers in the summer, a bowl full of polished apples and spruce twigs in the winter, or a vase with colorful leaves and cattails in the fall are simple, inexpensive, and beautiful.